San Jose’s growing homeless problem is now partly Apple’s problem

San Jose’s growing homeless problem is now partly Apple’s problemThe site on Component Drive had only one camper two years ago, but the community has grown. Photo: Google
Wesley Severson
Published on August 11, 2021

A homeless encampment is growing on a property owned by Apple in North San Jose, and the site off Component Drive could soon see the arrival of even more residents if nothing is done soon. 

Apple is trying to come up with an ethical solution to this growing encampment on its land, but there aren’t many places for the people there to go. To make matters worse, the city of San Jose is about to start clearing out an even bigger encampment near San Jose Mineta International Airport which could send a wave of new residents onto the Apple property.

Apple is apparently in discussions with city officials about what to do with the encampment and the roughly three dozen unhoused people. Daniel Lazo, who represents the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services department, tells the Mercury News, “There are approximately 30-35 unhoused people living in the area with an estimated 200 tons of hazardous trash and debris on the private property, making this a complicated and challenging situation. There are also an estimated 65-75 operable and inoperable vehicles at the site.”

KPIX spoke to residents at the camp early last month who believe the tech giant should be doing a lot more with all the money it has.

“I tell you what, if they’re such a wealthy company, they could be helping to put all of us, to make this place better. Instead of trying to kick us out here, if the company is so big, show that they even care,” Robert Carlson, who lives on the Apple property, told KPIX.

Hoodline previously reported that the city of San Jose is hoping to start a massive, three-pronged clean-up plan for the airport encampment that some say houses around 500 people. The city is waiting for the plan to get approval from the FAA, which is threatening to withhold federal airport funding if the site isn’t cleared. With a camp so big, many believe it is inevitable that residents from there will flock to the Apple site.

The Mercury News reports that the city council will be considering the creation of a new modular housing area on West Mission Street, near police headquarters, at a meeting next month. The hope is to bring dozens of residents from the airport camp to this proposed site before they set up at the Apple property — but the site will only house a fraction of those being displaced.

Some see the growing encampment on Apple’s property as an opportunity for the tech giant to step up and really make a difference, like it has been promising to do since 2019 when it pledged $2.5 billion to fight homelessness. “My bet is that Apple will not want to be the private company that chases the homeless out,” retired homeless outreach worker, Richard Scott, told Mercury News.